Sassy Southern Cooking with a French Twist

brisket

Excellent New Barbecue Destination in Charleston

Somehow I slept through the opening of Swig and Swine a few months ago.  I discovered it at just the right time, however, smack dab in the middle of Charleston Restaurant Week and first-ever Charleston beer week. Here’s the link to today’s post on The Permanent Tourist Charleston:

http://charleston.thepermanenttourist.com/theres-a-new-pig-in-town/

Here’s a picture to whet your appetite so you’ll understand what I’m talking about!

A delectable plate of barbecue at Swig and Swine

A delectable plate of barbecue at Swig and Swine

Also, many thanks to Stephanie Smith at The Wandering Eye for her favorable review of The French Cook – Soups & Stews. Here’s an excerpt:

“…Classic bisques, stews and what might be the best French Onion Soup recipe I have encountered, are described in terms that will enhance your confidence when trying the recipes on your own. Beautiful photography by Chia Chong allows you to see how each dish should appear. Stylist Libbie Summers, also a photographer, styled the dishes into beautiful arrangements. The nice gloss of each page should help to repel spills, because you’re going to want to keep this book close by when you’re in the kitchen.”

My very newest book baby, The French Cook: Soups & Stews is in bookstores now.

My very newest book baby, The French Cook: Soups & Stews is in bookstores now.

As always, bon appetit and happy cooking!

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Two Boroughs Larder Brings Welcome Cosmo/Rustic Fare

Situated near the cusp of Ansonborough and Elliotborough on the middle to upper reaches of the Charleston peninsula, this delightful new bistro strikes a winning balance between rustic, old-fashioned food preparations (think schnitzel and pork chops) and modern, cosmopolitan sophistication (think roasted radishes to go with said schnitzel and beer mustard with said pork chop). It’s fitting, then, that husband/wife co-owners Josh and Heather Keeler borrowed from the past with old-fashioned words like borough and larder, more commonly called neighborhood or pantry, these days, to form the restaurant’s apt name.

Like so many of their local restaurant brethren, Two Boroughs Larder leans heavily on the localvore theme, sourcing from popular farming titans like Keegan Fillion, and buying only SC milk and local farm eggs. But, unlike The Macintosh and HUSK, for example, the theme isn’t wholly or even largely Southern.  The food pairings hit global notes, with Korean inspired Bowl-O-Noodle and the Italian Veal Ragu Bianco while the heaping beef brisket sandwich with spicy/sweet country mustard would be happily at home in any Jewish deli.

Two Boroughs Version of a Brisket Whopper

Sampled on my very first visit here, this sky-high sandwich featured fork-tender, full-flavored brisket with cool, crunchy house made pickles and a pungent, sweet/hot mustard that popped with rustic mustard seeds.

It’s the reason I came back, again, and again. It took a couple passes for the service, which was a bit frosty at the first pass, and the decor, simultaneously rustic and cosmopolitan and mildly uncomfortable with somewhat confined spacing, to grow on me. Reclaimed and old wood covers the walls and forms the tables, while sleek metallic chairs provide slightly edgy seating.  In the end, the convivial setting and warming neighborhood feel of the place won me over.  Once you settle in,  hopefully in the company of a few good friends, it’s all about the deftly prepared food by the New England Culinary Institute grad, Keeler, and a sip or two of the restaurant’s extensive and revolving craft beer and respectable wine selection.

The menu “standard” include the Bowl-O-Noodle ($9), a steaming bowl of buckwheat noodles, pork broth, pork and egg (kimchi, greens and pickled mushrooms can be added for a little extra) and a selection of breakfast sandwiches ($5-$6) that can be ordered any time of the day or night. These beauties sit on gorgeous hard rolls and are filled with the likes of Nueske’s bacon, peperonata, or house-made pork scrapple along with gooey, melting cheddar cheese and a fried egg.

Other than that, the menu revolves with what’s arrived in the kitchen that day and the chef’s formidable sense of whimsy, talent, and creativity. Though the main dishes can be pricey, particularly for lunch (ranging from $14 – $25), one’s appetite can be thoroughly sated for much less by combining a couple of the wonderful sides and a starter (such as the stellar Szechuan ox tail , $13).

That’s what I did on my most recent trip, settling into a couple of sides and a mostly vegetarian feast, including this incredible salsify gratin, which balanced the nutty, briny taste of the root vegetable, with ample cream and a crisp, broiled finish on top.

Creamy Salsify Gratin Side Dish

 

Also being served that day,  a warm, satisfying Catalan chickpea “main,” which offered a guilt-free trip to the flavors of Spain with background hints of Sherry vinegar, roasted red peppers, soft, sweet onion, and fryer-hot puffs of fried, chickpea puree. This was chickpea perfection!

Catalan Chickpeas

 

Two Boroughs proves its worthy and diverse larder – which often counts house-made pickles, charred lemon, kimchi, Mornay sauce, lentilles du Puy, parsnip broth, Marcona almond pesto in its ranks – works in new, wonderful ways and and with a sense of style and flavor pairings Charleston has not yet experienced before.

In the hands of a less talented chef, the diversity of ingredients and international culinary influences, risk getting jumbled. Not so with Keeler at Two Boroughs Larder. His combination hits the sum of its parts just about perfectly. There are even locally made YesUMay ice cream cookie sandwiches for dessert.

Two Boroughs Larder

186 Coming Street, Charleston SC

(843) 637-3722

Visit www.twoboroughslarder.com for daily menu postings, hours and more information.

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Should Be World Famous Pig at Moose’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Famous” has lost its meaning of late in the haze of “reality” t.v. and constant celebrity seeking in everyone from pet poodles’ parents to crooning toddlers with mediocre talent who manage to find their moment of  “fame” on You Tube and the internet. Recently,  a friend of a friend even asked me if I was famous, to which I replied, “If you have to ask, you probably know the answer”.  

Fortunately, a barbecue aficianado friend of mine didn’t tell me about the “famous” part of Moose’s Famous BBQ monicker, when he lured me up into the outer reaches of North Charleston/Moncks’ Corner to sample the pig at Moose’s. I probably would have written it off as hype, especially since it’s the first time I’ve heard of the place after eleven years of living in greater Charleston. But, I trusted his word on ‘cue, having proven his pork muster in the past. 

Moose’s Famous BBQ is not to be missed. I dare say it is the best pig I’ve ever sampled in these parts. Owner Mark Moose, a native of Gastonia, NC, has been “cooking since high school,” spreading his love of barbecue all over the South including pork and beef smoking junkets in NC, GA, KY, and SC. Moose’s has been open for five years on a sleepy stretch of Highway 17 A, where it sits, like the best of most barbecue places, mostly unadorned and very easy to miss. Unless, you sniff for the smoke.

Hickory all but billows from the two, hickory wood-fired pits behind the friendly, grey building. Inside, framed puzzles form the pictures into the country soul of the place and a steaming buffet table whets the appetite of all who enter with unrestrained yet unintended cruelty. Forget about diets here. They are simply not going to happen.  A prominent sign reads “If you can’t smell the smoke, the BBQ’s a joke”.

No joke here, save Moose, wielding his knife merrily about as he prepares to personally cut the crusty, moist, 12-hour smoked brisket to order for all who pass through the buffet line. “What would you like, hon?” he asks with soul-warming sincerity. The skinny sliced brisket, complete with a crusty, black, caramelized crust gets dressed (if you take Moose’s suggestion, and I suggest you do) with an airy, tomato puree, or a “sweet red sauce,” as he calls it. It’s a beautiful interpretation of a NC tomato/vinegar sauce and smacks to the high heavens of sweet/tart flavor to further enhance the pink, smokiness of the beef.

For “pulled” pork, Moose plunges his gloved “paw” (he’s got big hands) into the moist, 12-hour smoked Boston butt where it falls effortlessly in pink, tan and brown, unctuous shreds, like a shower of ‘cue goodness,  onto your plate. This is best paired with Moose’s “old slave sauce”, a steaming bath of rendered pork fat so heavily peppered and seasoned with enough mystery spices he jokes it will render your butt hairless. It took him “years” to get the recipe from a friend, and you’ll want to thank him personally for doing it. 

Most ‘cue joints (even the “famous” ones) serve up a side or two of mac ‘n cheese, slaw, beans, and the like, but Moose throws in heart-breakingly delicious casseroles – his specialty (unless you count the sauces and the smoked meats). He puts his personal touch and love into the sweet potato and hash brown casserole (a gooey marriage of hash brown and oodles of cheese), both of which are served daily. On alternating days, try the Brunswick stew, squash casserole, and red rice casserole. The whisper thin strands of yellow squash that weave their way through cheese-whipped custard in the squash casserole are like a Southern souffle. Sheer decadence! The hush puppies, nutty nuggets of savory doughnuts and ham-studded baked beans, alongside anything your Styrofoam plate (the health department mandates a fresh plate at each pass) can handle at Moose’s will make it your new favorite ‘cue stomping grounds.

If not officially famous yet, perhaps Moose’s soon will be. It certainly deserves fame, accolades and all of that,  but I’d hate to risk taking the country bloom off this already perfect ‘cue rose.  There is a web site and a new Summerville location looming in the near future and he wants to set up as many as 10 stores in greater Charleston in the coming months/years.

Moose is THE place in Charleston to get your pig on.  All you can eat lunch plates are just $10.50 (plus tax) and dinner a modest $11.50 (plus tax). It’s spotless, friendly, and the parking is easy. Get it while you can!

Moose’s Famous BBQ

1440 South Live Oak Drive, Moncks Corner, SC 29461

(843) 899-4999

Thursday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

NOTE: NO CREDIT CARDS! Cash only.

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Sammy’s Sliders are Way Smooth

Just this morning, I was discussing with a friend that I’m generally more comfortable when I’m slightly under-fed than when I’m slightly over-fed. My job, as lovely as it is, requires, at times, that I eat more than I’m comfortable eating.  It goes with the territory, as it did  last week when I found myself turning the corner on my final eating research week down in Savannah. I was there, as I have been for months, to eat my way through town in search of the best food for inclusion in Food Lovers’ Charleston & Savannah (Globe Pequot Press, December, 2011). This meant eight to ten eating hits per day of what I’ve since been calling, rather jokingly, a “nibble and scribble” fest.

All joking aside, Sammy’s was a place I had spotted several weeks ago. It’s completely unassuming and stands out from its small post on Abercorn Street mostly due to a glaringly bright yellow and green awning. Not many people I had talked to knew about it, even though it’s been there several months.

The menu, mostly an interesting array of sliders and dogs, was compelling enough to give it a go. So, on eating round five last Monday, I approached the small counter to place my order.  Briskets really are the order of the day here. Roasted beef brisket (flat and tip) melt with just a bit of fat and deep, beef flavor into petite, buttered, toasted buns. They’re served with whimsical (but not over the top) sauces like a cooling tzatziki paired with the hot kiss of sriracha in the Doner (pictured right, above) and oozing, smooth American cheese and crisp, sweet onions atop the Chee Booger (pictured left above). The latter tasted like a gourmet burger on a sweet little toasted bun. Much to my surprise, I ate every last bite of both sliders – belly busting budget be damned! These babies go down that smoothly with a cool, bubbly soda and friendly service from the young staff. At just $2.50 each (they can be mixed and matched) they’re a true bargain and a delicious delight. Pork and chicken sliders are also available, but I recommend the brisket sliders all the way to the flavor bank.

The setting is relaxed and well-suited to the SCAD students that populate this part of town near The Starland District.

Sammy Green’s

1710 Abercorn Street, between 334d & 34th

Savannah, GA 31401

(912) 232-1951

www.sammygreens.com

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Cracking the Cookbook Code Retreat

Join me and blogger, chef and author Beckie Carrico Hemmerling March 29 – April 1, 2019 for Cracking the Cookbook Code, Writing, Cooking, Marketing, Photography + Wellness Retreat. Limited to only 8 people, we will have a blissful few days in a beautiful, relaxing setting with like-minded souls, eating delicious food and having a wonderful time. Click for details.

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